Lynx move into Semis, Dangerfield and Reeve win awards

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BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Rookie of the year Crystal Dangerfield scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half and Minnesota beat Phoenix 80-79 to advance to the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs. Damiris Dantas led Minnesota with 22 points although she missed a pair of free throws with 6.1 seconds left leaving Phoenix with the chance to pull off another last-second victory. With no timeouts left, the Mercury got the ball up the court by Skylar Diggins-Smith’s shot was off the mark. Two nights earlier Shey Peddy made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in an 85-84 win over Washington in a first-round victory.

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The WNBA announced today that Minnesota Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve is the recipient of the 2020 WNBA Coach of the Year Award. Reeve received 25 votes from a national panel of 47 sportswriters and broadcasters. This is Reeve’s third Coach of the Year honor and the fourth time a Lynx coach has been named Coach of the Year (Suzie McConnell Serio, 2004). She ties Van Chancellor (1997-98-99) and Mike Thibault (2006-08-13) for the most in WNBA history.

Under Reeve’s tutelage, the Lynx have compiled 232 wins over the last 10 seasons, the most prolific decade run in WNBA history, and have won four WNBA Championships (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017). Since taking over in 2010, Reeve’s 67.7% winning percentage (245-117) ranks first in league history. She is one of only two coaches to win over 60% of their regular season games (Chancellor, 65.5%) and has also recorded the most wins (40) and highest winning percentage (70.2%) in WNBA Playoff history.

The Lynx finished the 2020 regular season with a 14-8 record, earning the No. 4 seed in the WNBA Playoffs despite playing the final 15 games without center Sylvia Fowles. Six different Minnesota players scored 25 or more points in a game (Rachel Banham, Lexie Brown, Bridget Carleton, Napheesa Collier, Crystal Dangerfield and Damiris Dantas), the top one-year total by any team in league history. The Lynx posted six double-digit comeback wins, matching 2015 for the club record in that category. This season also saw four Lynx players finishing among the league’s top 15 in three-point accuracy, including Rachel Banham (fourth, 47.2%) and Bridget Carleton (seventh, 45.7%), who both eclipsed Maya Moore’s previous franchise record for single-season accuracy (45.3% in 2013).

Reeve’s previous WNBA Coach of the Year honors came in 2011, when Minnesota compiled a 27-7 record and proceeded to win its first championship, and 2016, when the Lynx won a franchise-record 28 games and advanced to the WNBA Finals for the fifth time in six years.

Prior to reaching the WNBA, the former Rhodes Scholar nominee and basketball star at Philadelphia’s La Salle University spent 12 years at the collegiate level, including head coaching roles at Indiana State and George Washington. She then moved to the WNBA where she served stints as an assistant under Anne Donovan in Charlotte (2001-02, 2004-05) and Dan Hughes in Cleveland (2003), laying the foundation for an extremely successful four-year tenure as an assistant with Detroit under Bill Laimbeer, where she helped the Shock win WNBA Championships in 2006 and 2008.

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The WNBA today announced that Minnesota Lynx guard Crystal Dangerfield has been selected as the 2020 Rookie of the Year by a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Dangerfield, named on 44 of 47 ballots, is the first second-round choice (16th overall) to ever win the award.

“I’m incredibly proud that Crystal has been named the 2020 Rookie of the Year,” said Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve. “She demonstrated a strong belief in herself from the outset of our time here in Bradenton. Crystal was a key reason for the success the Lynx experienced in 2020 as she brilliantly rose up to the many challenges of shouldering the responsibility of running an offense as a rookie in the WNBA.”

Dangerfield, the fifth Lynx player and second in a row to earn Rookie of the Year honors (Napheesa Collier 2019, Maya Moore 2011, Seimone Augustus 2006, Betty Lennox 2000), wrapped up her debut season in the WNBA by starting 19 of the final 20 games. She led the Lynx in both scoring (16.2 ppg) and assists (3.6 apg) while shooting 47% from the field and 92% from the free throw line. Dangerfield ranked third in the WNBA in FT accuracy at 92.2%, breaking Katie Smith’s club single-season mark of 89.9% set in 2004, and ended the season with the third-highest per-game scoring average ever for a Lynx rookie.

The 5-6 guard led all WNBA rookies with eight 20+ point games, which was the most by a Lynx rookie since Augustus tallied 20 such games in 2006. She additionally notched three 20+ point/5+ assist games, leading all WNBA rookies this season and marking the most such games by a Lynx rookie since Lennox in 2000. Dangerfield was chosen as the WNBA’s Rookie of the Month in August and September, becoming the second Lynx rookie to garner the award twice (Moore, 2011).

“This award means a lot to me, being named this year’s Rookie of the Year,” said Dangerfield. “There’s still work that needs to be done in the Playoffs, but I’m thankful for my coaches and teammates for putting me in the best position to succeed here in Minnesota.”

The University of Connecticut product ended the year by scoring 10+ points in each of her final 18 games, the third-longest rookie double-figure scoring streak in Lynx history (Augustus 24, Candice Wiggins 21). Over the course of those 18 games, she averaged a team-high 17.9 ppg and 2.9 apg while shooting 48.6% (118-for-243) from the field and 94.6% (53-for-56) from the free throw line. For the year, she ranked second in the WNBA in fourth-quarter scoring with 129 points (6.5 per game) on 58.2% shooting.

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